f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Year in Review Day 2 – Movies

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Year in Review Day 2 – Movies

We see a fair number of movies but very few in the theater. Therefore I’m always behind the curve in terms of talking about what’s been excellent this particular year. I do tend, however, to watch a number of smaller films that may get overlooked and could be a good rental for you. These are all films that came out late 2003 - summer 2004.

1. Shattered Glass – This film was so good that even the guy who plays Anakin Skywalker in those awful Star Wars prequels is excellent in it. A little morality tale set at The New Republic, this is true story and it left me shaking my head.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Written by the odd mind behind Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, this was one had a heart the others, for all their narrative ingenuity, lacked. Not that this lacks for narrative ingenuity. Basically it’s about the damage we do to ourselves and others in the name of love. Can be found in the dictionary next to the word, “melancholy.”

3. Before Sunset – Nine years later, two people who’d spent one amazing night together reunite. It’s also been nine years in the lives of the actors and director (all three collaborated on the writing) and you can feel the weight of what’s changed in that decade in their performances and who their characters become. Fascinating from an artistic perspective (Imagine revisiting characters from your first book thirty years later. Updike’s done it.) and successful in every respect. (Please see Before Sunrise first, though.)

4. In America – An Irish family sneaks across the Canadian border to start life anew in amazing New York City. The two little girls in this film are some of the best kid actors I’ve ever seen. A touching film that avoids smarm.

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Probably my favorite “blockbuster” of the year. Someone finally managed to mix the charm, the darkness, the wonder, and the power of Rowling’s stories into a film. Too bad he’s only directing one film.

6. The Station Agent – I have a pet theory that the great theme of the past decades has been loneliness and our paradoxically increasing isolation from each other in the world (despite there being more people alive than ever before). The Station Agent does its tango with loneliness and fits at least a ray of hope for its characters.

7. The Bourne Supremacy – This would have been way higher if they’d merely hired the same film editor as the first film. Instead, I’m still suffering from motion sickness from the ridiculous cutting. (And I’m part of the low-attention-span MTV generation.) Still…good, solid action. Who knew Good Will Hunting would become our 21st-Century action hero?

8. The Shape of Things – My wife hated this film. Of course, she has a good heart and doesn’t like to see people do mean things to each other. I like the occasional piece of provocative art that flaunts common decency in the name of asking questions about art, every day morality, and what makes us want to change. Is that a raving endorsement of the film or what?

9. 50 First Dates – What can I say, this worked for me.

10. Dirty Pretty Things – From the cover and the title, you might think this was soft-core porn. No, it’s pretty much about illegal aliens living in London, trying to make their way through a world in which they have no power, no status. Sorry to disappoint you.

And the Film I Disliked Most – That’d be 13 Going on 30.